High point of High Tech
His success in the early days of High Tech brought Anthony Hunt and his practice a series of commissions for landmark projects in the 1970s and up to around the mid 1980s. Among these and Hunt's own favourite is the now Grade I listed Willis Faber Dumas building
(1975) in Ipswich, Suffolk.
Designed by Foster Associates in the tradition of Owen Williams' Daily Express buildings (such as the Daily Express, Manchester
), the three-storey Willis Faber Dumas building has a curved irregularly-shaped plan. It uses concrete column and slab construction, with a steel frame for the uppermost level and glazed curtain walling for cladding.
Also for Foster Associates, Hunt engineered the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts
(1978) on the campus of the University of East Anglia, Norwich. This, the epitome of High Tech, is a steel lattice framed single-span supershed with plate glass end walls and aluminium panel cladding. Both walls and roof are bolted together and sealed with EPDM (ethylene-propylene-diene monomer) gaskets a detail that exemplifies Hunt's use of advanced bulding technologies, which in turn informed the fundamental ethos of High Tech.
In 1976, Hunt bought a large manor house in the village of Coln St Aldwyn near Cirencester, in Gloucestershire. His marriage to Patricia had ended in divorce some years before but now they decided to remarry. Hunt was keen to move away from hectic London so he could cultivate a more relaxed studio atmosphere. Here he set up a model-making workshop where he was able to delve into his life-long passion for industrial design.
He persuaded some of AHA's London office staff to move to Gloucestershire too: an expansion that prompted the practice to set a computer system, one of the earliest structural analysis systems designed for and by engineers in this country. While he was at Coln St Aldwyn, Hunt designed and protoyped a range of studio furniture.
Around this time AHA won a number of commissions for industrial buildings that used more-standard structural elements such as portal frames. To these Hunt brought his unique experience in the refinement of engineering detail. Examples include the already-mentioned Reliance Control factory (1967) for Team 4, and the Fred Olsen shipping line passenger terminal and headquarters (1971) at Millwall and the Modern Art Glass building (1973), both for Foster Associates.
Another example is the Greene King Brewery's racking plant
(1979-81) in Suffolk for Michael Hopkins & Partners. Here a concrete column and slab suspended ground floor is constructed below the lightweight lattice steel beam and column superstructure. The cladding is profiled steel, with glazed industrial doors. Though less technologically advanced than other AHA projects of this period, its careful planning and detail earned it engineering design awards.
As mentioned earlier, the early 1980s saw Hunt working on the Patera relocatable building
by Michael Hopkins a reconfigurable structural system in steel. In 1981, Hunt worked on Hopkins' own offices at Broadley Terrace
, London, where he adapted the industrialised Patera components to create an 18m square double-height office with mezzanine.
By 1985, Hunt's second marriage to Patricia had ended, and he decided to move back to London. Later that year he married Diana Collett. In his prefessional lfe, things were changing too. The high point of High Tech had come and gone, and more significantly, the engineering profession was itself entering a new and more complex chapter in its history.
references interview with Anthony Hunt, correspondance with Anthony Hunt
photo courtesy Anthony Hunt